The Ultimate Guide to Padparadscha Sapphires
Discover our expert gemmologist’s guide to Padparadscha Sapphires, plus some stunning alternative gemstones which offer a similar colour!
7 minute read | Words by Angeli
Meet the Padparadscha Sapphire - one of the rarest gemstones, known for its unique blend of orange, pink and yellow tones which create a truly stunning gemstone.
Read on to discover our expert gemmologist’s guide to Padparadscha Sapphires, the history of this gemstone, how much they cost, and how to identify one, plus some stunning alternative gemstones which offer a similar colour!
What is a Padparadscha Sapphire?
They are a variety of Sapphires which exhibit a specific blend of pink, orange and yellow colour, often referred to as ‘Peach’. Records show the name was first coined in Sri Lanka in the 19th century, and comes from the Sinhalese word for “Lotus Colour”.
How is the colour of a Padparadscha Sapphire defined?
The term Padparadscha was coined by eastern gemstone dealers in reference to the stunning colour of the lotus flower just before blooming, which is a bright red-yellow! As this ‘saffron’ colour is holy in the East, this variety of Sapphire did not make its way to the West for some time, but once it arrived, confusion surrounding the colour started.
While translating the Sinhalese word for ‘Lotus Colour’ into a different language is easy enough, translating what this colour truly represents culturally has proven more difficult. This has resulted in something of a game of Chinese whispers whereby both East and West think Padparadscha embodies a different colour.
The Lotus flower goes through several different colour palettes throughout its life, starting with the deeper red-yellow, blossoming into a pink-orange, and ultimately a lighter pink. Sri Lankan dealers (where this gemstone is typically found) consider Padparadscha to be any blend of red, pink and yellow, and not specific to a particular tone or saturation. Ultimately, the deeper red-yellow colour depicting the Lotus flower right before full bloom, or a deep ‘sunset’ colour is the colour of the original Padparadscha Sapphire for which the term was created.
However, in the 80s a GIA article was published offering the gem world their description of what a Padparadscha ought to be. They state ‘It is the GIA’s opinion that this colour range should be limited to light to medium tones of pinkish orange to orange-pink hues’. Note the ‘light to medium’ and ‘pinkish-orange to orange-pink hues’. Western dealers and consumers now think of Padparadscha as a paler, almost pastel orange-pink / pink-orange, representing the Lotus flower once fully bloomed, or a softer ‘sunrise’ colour.
These two understandings of a Padparadscha are not only different regarding the colour (red-yellow vs light orange-pink), but also the tone and saturation. As aforementioned above, Sri Lankan dealers refer to the colour regardless of tone and saturation, whereas this new definition not only describes a different colour, but also specifies the level of saturation the gemstone must depict as well.
At present in the industry, there are a number of prominent gemstone labs. Given the ‘true’ colour, tone and saturation of the Padparadscha is so disputed, these labs have created internal standards for what they will allow as a Padparadscha. The issue here is that these internal standards are not always the same across each gem lab, and as a result what one lab might certify as a Padparadscha, another might not, ultimately creating a lot of confusion for jewellery houses and consumers.
Is Padparadscha the same as blush pink / peach?
In short, no. Much like ‘cornflower’ and ‘royal’ blue, ‘blush’ and ‘peach’ are commercial terms rather than gemmological terms, and can be quite subjective.
Padparadscha Sapphire Engagement Rings & Jewellery
Once you’ve discovered this magnificent gemstone, it's hard not to fall in love. So it’s easy to see why Padparadscha Sapphires have been making a splash as a choice for an engagement ring in recent years. Princess Eugenie announced her engagement in 2018 with a beautiful flower design engagement ring, featuring a oval cut Padparadscha centre stone, further driving interest in this gemstone.
What do I do if I want a Padparadscha sapphire?
So now you might be wondering what to do if you want a Padparadscha Sapphire - as they can be more difficult to come by. Read our gemmologists top tips below:
1. Avoid trying to colour match gemstones you find online.
Often these are retouched images and paint an unrealistic colour expectation. Some are even images of synthetic gemstones, which are engineered to look ‘perfect’ but do not resemble the real life of a natural gemstone.
2. Be as specific as possible regarding the colour you’re dreaming of
Rather than using only the ‘name’ of the sapphire, like Padparadscha (or Cornflower Blue and Royal Blue). Other names to avoid asking for include blush pink, peach and champagne, as these colours are also only in the eye of the beholder. Are you looking for a soft, pale pink? A soft, pale orange? A pale, brownish-yellow? A parti-coloured sapphire with some pink and some orange? If you’re unsure you can speak to your jeweller and they should be able to help! Being specific on the actual colour, tone and saturation of your gemstone will ensure there is no miscommunication between yourself, your jeweller and ultimately the gemstone dealer.
How much do Padparadscha Sapphires cost?
Typically the colour variations of Sapphire which people consider to be Padparadscha, demand a premium due to their rarity and often sell for more than other types of Sapphire (of course dependent also upon other factors such as clarity and weight).
For example, Christie’s auctioned a ‘Padparadscha’ sapphire in 2005, which ended up selling for $18,000/ct. At 20.84ct, the stone sold for a total of more than $375,000. Different blends, hues and saturations of pink and orange will demand different prices - so it’s important to know what it is you’re looking for, and your jeweller will be able to provide a quote for you based upon this. Please contact our concierge team here to submit a bespoke jewellery enquiry. We would be delighted to help you in creating your perfect piece!
If you have a particular colour (shade, hue and saturation) which you are looking for, our team of gemmologists will advise on what is possible, and share examples of gemstones we have sourced in the past as reference where possible, and through the sourcing process if you wish to proceed in creating your piece with us.
What if I want a lab cert stating Padparadscha?
As mentioned above, even amongst the most prominent international gem labs there is a lack of clarity and consensus on what can be considered a Padparadscha Sapphire. As such, it becomes very difficult to ensure Padparadscha certification on stone unless you are buying one already certified by a lab of your choice.
As we work with individual dealers sourcing directly from mines or countries of origin, this means it is unlikely that our gemstones will undergo certification from a prominent lab before we source it. We are always happy to provide extra third-party gem lab certifications, but this does not guarantee that we can certify your gemstone as a Padparadscha, and rather we would state the true colour your individual gemstone will exhibit.
Alternatives to Padparadscha Sapphires
Due to rarity, and cost, finding the perfect Padparadscha can be quite a challenge - however the good news is there are some other stunning gemstone options which offer similarly stunning colours which we would highly recommend considering too!
First up we have Tourmaline! Available in a host of pink to red hues, this gemstone is durable, and comes in at a 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness - making it a perfect gemstone for everyday wear.
Morganite is another great alternative. A member of the Beryl gemstone family (alongside Emerald and Aquamarine) it rated a 7.5 on the Mohs scale. Again this gemstone comes in a variety of hues paler to deeper pink, sometimes with brown hues. Typically this is paler coloured gemstone.
A lesser known gemstone, Spinel is most commonly found in blue, purple and red colours. However, it can also be found in a more saturated red-pink-orange blend. And at a 9 on the Mohs scale, with a very high level of lustre, they are the perfect substitute to a Sapphire.
If a Sapphire is the gemstone which you have your heart set on - then there is a whole rainbow of colours to consider. Opting for a Pink Sapphire or an Orange Sapphire can be worth considering as an alternative to the Padparadscha.
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